When the first bones of Homo floresiensis, the so-called “Indonesian Hobbit”, were discovered in 2003, it set off a firestorm in the archaeological community. This has yet to die down almost fifteen years later. The fossilized bones, found in a cave on the island of Flores, are of humanoids with tiny skulls and leg bones. This is where the nickname “Hobbit” came from, referring of course to the furry-footed creatures of Tolkien lore in the
Some scientists believe them to be still too young for how different the bones are from modern humans. This is not just about the size, but also in their shape. The short legs and long arms of the Indonesian hobbit almost certainly indicate that they at least partially moved about on four limbs. Homo erectus was standing completely on two feet almost 2 million years ago.
Indonesian Hobbit Mystery Solved?
Two theories try to explain why the Homo floresiensis looks the way it does. One theory believes that they were a mutated or diseased subculture of normal humans. These could have lived in isolation and eventually died out. Another picking up steam is that they are descendants of an early migration of primitive hominids out of Africa 2 million years ago, long before humans were believed to have emerged.
As always in science, new evidence seems to have raised more questions than it answered. The latest study on the matter was released in the Journal of Human Evolution. According to it, the second theory is the correct one. The team stated that the Hobbit is related to the Homo habilis, more exactly, they may be a sister species with a common ancestor. Although this latter has yet to be determined, the study completely shut down the deformed early humans theory.
“When we did the analysis there was really clear support for the relationship with Homo habilis. Homo floresiensis occupied a very primitive position on the human evolutionary tree.”